Silent Film Series: Halloween Edition

Over the weekend, I decided it was time to start transitioning my music listening into the autumnal mode, and rather than go straight to Harvest on the vinyl, I decided to ease into things with Jerry Garcia’s second solo album, a 1974 release known as Garcia (Compliments). The version I have comes from a Garcia boxed set, which means it has a number of bonus tracks appended to those songs that comprised the original release. Like a lot of Garcia’s solo work, there are plenty of cover tunes on this album, and while I generally like the release more than the two-star rating it received from AllMusic, there’s one song in particular that’s stuck out to me since my first listen.

The tune is one of the bonus tracks, an R&B-type cover entitled “(I’m a) Road Runner,” written by the hit-making Holland-Dozier-Holland Motown songwriting team, and first recorded by Junior Walker and the All-Stars in 1965. Of the versions I’ve heard, I like Garcia’s the best– it’s the most complete, to my ear– but Bo Diddley got ahold of it too, and it’s his version that prompted this post.


Two things you might think would happen in this space are not going to happen. First, this being the continuation of our Silent Film Series, you might expect discussion of a video clip best viewed without sound, since that’s the premise of the Series. Second, this being a post about Halloween, videos, and music, you might expect me to go with this, which, if this was a Friday, is what I would’ve done.

Instead and in light of the above, I’m appealing to the common notion that, on Halloween, things that were dead take on an impressively lifelike quality (e.g., ghosts, mummies, zombies, vampires, etc.), and applying that concept to the notion of “silent” films as I’ve conceived it here. In other words, when a “silent” film takes on lifelike qualities on Halloween, you can hear it as well as see it. In other words, I was watching the selection, below, with the sound on, quickly reached the definite conclusion were the visuals of the sort that would make the clip a good feature in this spot, and then reached the probable conclusion that everyone would like watching it better with the music playing too. In still other words, turn up your volume, and enjoy a minor spectacle of live-action sight and sound:

Video: Inside Vanderbilt’s 17-13 win over Auburn

With the most notable exception being our podcasts, this site largely has been about reading and writing. As it has developed, I see its two main functions as a) distilling the ever-increasing amount of sports writing by highlighting just a few of the best pieces and b) providing an independent platform for the relating of personal sports opinions, experiences, and other reactions. Because our A/V crew unionized and promptly went on strike earlier this year, we almost exclusively perform the second function, the real creative one, through the written word. I think that usually is a good thing, and doing that type of writing is part of the fun of this site.

There are plenty of times, though, when video can be a better form of communication than text alone. (See, for example our Silent Film Series, currently on an extended intermission.) My sense is that video is still trying to find its place in an increasingly social and mobile digital world. My sense also is that Vanderbilt’s athletic department is doing as good a job as any program of using social media in general and video in particular to provide to multiple important audiences– alumni, current students, and prospective students– a real inside look into their program. One of the most successful examples came when a video of Coach James Franklin surprising a senior walk-on football player with a scholarship went moderately viral this summer.

The latest example is perhaps less momentous and less likely to spread far beyond the Vanderbilt community, but the extended highlight reel of the team’s win over Auburn this past Saturday offers a pretty compelling and intimate look at the gameday experience through the team’s eyes:

ALDLAND Silent Film Series: Intermission

When I found the first selection for our Silent Film Series, I knew that I’d stumbled onto something special that could be the beginning of something even more special. I thought then that it would be easy to find other entries of similar quality, but after a while, I reached a point where I thought it might prove too difficult to ever find a suitable sequel. I remain happy with the second selection because I really like it and it showed me that the series could be broad in scope, encompassing different styles.

There is a certain energy in the first video, though, and I hope to recapture that in the future. While we wait (and I catch up on the past week in sports-on-the-internet), here’s an intermission in the form of a still photograph that immediately reminded me of some of the energy in the first entry.

In case you can’t tell, that’s thirty-onetwenty-three year old and new Seattle Seahawk Russell Wilson and his wife.


Silent Film Series: Virgil “Fire” Trucks (Detroit, MI 1956)
Silent Film Series: Baron Davis (Oakland, CA 2007)